The air separation principle using plants is based on air liquefaction and its following separation by low-temperature rectification into nitrogen, oxygen (argon, neon, helium, krypton, xenon). A cryogenic plant is a sophisticated technical product that consists of atmosphere air compression and treatment equipment, heat exchangers, fractionation towers, cryogenic pumps, and a host of other things.
Such gas production method is called air separation by low-temperature refrigeration. Firstly, the air is compressed by compressor, and then, upon passing through heat exchangers, it is expanded in expansion machine or throttle valve as a result of which it is cooled to 93 °K and becomes liquid.
Further liquid air separation that consists mainly of liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen is based on different boiling points of its components: for oxygen it is 90.18 °K while for nitrogen it is 77.36 °K. With gradual liquid air evaporation it is primarily nitrogen that steams out at first, and the remaining liquid becomes increasingly enriched with oxygen. Liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon of the desired purity are produced while reiterating such process with separation column fractionating plates.
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